Prince George’s County (Md.) Executive Wayne K. Curry wants to outlaw gun shows in the county.
At his request, Prince George’s legislators will offer a bill when the General Assembly meets in January to ban gun shows at public park sites and planning commission-controlled facilities in the county, according to spokesman Reginald Parks.
The new rules could mean financial trouble for businesses like Frank Krasner’s Frederick-based Silverado Promotions, a company that holds three gun shows a year at the Showplace Arena near Upper Marlboro.
“I want to know what the problem is,” said Mr. Krasner yesterday. “Every gun sold [at Silverado shows] has paperwork and background checks done, the same as at a gun shop.”
Mr. Krasner says he’s never been cited for any violation and calls the move to ban shows officials are also calling for new restrictions in nearby Montgomery County “political grandstanding” in an election year.
Some state officials are skeptical about the call for more gun control.
“On the surface, it sounds so far-reaching, it could be an infringement on his constitutional rights,” said Maryland House Speaker Casper R. Taylor, an Allegany Democrat who has been under fire in his home district for backing legislation enacted this year that mandates trigger locks, ballistic “fingerprinting” of guns and training whenever anyone buys a new handgun in the state.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan is pushing measures to ban gun shows in his county as well.
He has asked mayors in Montgomery to enact a law in their cities and towns similar to one already in force in the county that creates “gun-free zones” in public places.
That effort is aimed at ending gun shows that have been held for years at the privately owned but publicly subsidized county fairgrounds in Gaithersburg.
Mr. Krasner annually holds two shows there including one slated for this weekend at which members of anti-gun groups, including the Million Moms, are expected to stage a protest.
Five of the 10 gun shows Mr. Krasner holds each year could be banned if the measures promoted by Prince George’s and Montgomery counties’ executives are adopted.
That’s “a pretty good chunk” of his business, Mr. Krasner said, adding that none of the politicians behind the movement including a contingent of state legislators from Montgomery threatening action if the shows aren’t stopped have shared with him their concerns.
“Is it because we [Silverado] register so many conservative-minded voters? Or is it because we are 13th in the country in signing up members for the National Rifle Association?” said Mr. Krasner, explaining that his company gets a commission from the NRA for admitting people to the show.
The NRA’s Maryland lobbyist, Greg Costa, said Mr. Krasner is being treated unfairly. He said vendors at the shows follow the same guidelines as stores that sell firearms.
“Wayne Curry may as well go ahead and call for legislation outlawing selling guns,” Mr. Costa said. “He’s trying to out-Kennedy [Lt. Gov.] Kathleen [Kennedy Townsend] as they get warmed up for the 2002 election.”
Although Mr. Krasner said his shows do not use it, a “loophole” in federal law exempts firearm sales at gun shows from the scrutiny and paperwork of sales at shops.
Nancy Hwa, a spokeswoman for the gun-control-advocacy organization Handgun Control Inc., said the loophole makes it “virtually impossible” to track how many guns sold at shows are used in crimes.
But Ms. Hwa cited a federal study issued in January 1999 that “felons buying or selling firearms were involved in more than 46 percent of [a sample of 314 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’] investigations involving gun shows” and that “in more than a third of the investigations, the firearms involved were known to have been used in subsequent crimes.”
Regarding Mr. Duncan’s request, Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz said he, city council members and the city attorney will look at adopting gun-free zones, but he’s not sure the city has authority to enact such a law or to apply it to private property such as the fairgrounds, in this case.